Construction of the proposed Ross Street underpass may start in the spring of 2021. (City of Salmon Arm illustration)

Construction of the proposed Ross Street underpass may start in the spring of 2021. (City of Salmon Arm illustration)

Salmon Arm’s Ross Street underpass to go to tender but not without risk

City council gives nod to construction agreement after pondering insurance

The majority of Salmon Arm council has approved an agreement with Canadian Pacific Railway that will allow the Ross Street Underpass project to go to tender – but not without risk.

Risk was the main topic of discussion regarding the underpass at council’s Nov. 23 meeting.

A report from the city’s chief administrative officer, Carl Bannister, said the construction agreement, which was drafted by CPR, has undergone several revisions from both sides.

Regarding risk, particularly because it’s an active railway, Bannister’s report said there is a gap in the potential consequences of a serious event (from business interruptions to a derailment as a worst-case scenario) and the city’s insurance.

“Specifically business interruption, loss of profit and consequential damages to CP are not covered by insurance available to the City. The City continues to work with CP to look at alternate options for reducing or eliminating this gap in coverage (CP has agreed to remove direct references to this liability in the agreement; however, this does not remove the liability if so assigned by the courts),” Bannister wrote.

He said staff aren’t confident the issue of business interruption insurance can be resolved through more negotiations.

“The remaining risk is diffcult to quantify, would be case specific and ultimately determined by the courts but could be anticipated to be financially significant if CP’s operations are interrupted for any length of time,” Bannister wrote.

Read more: Election 2018 – Majority of voters give the nod to underpass spending

Read more: Salmon Arm’s Ross Street underpass construction is underway

Coun. Tim Lavery, who emphasized that he believes the underpass is needed and knows staff have worked to their utmost on it, was alone in voting against signing the construction agreement. He said he’s not okay with the risk and would like CP to take on the business interruption insurance.

“If it was other than a liability issue, I would be full-on voting in favour.”

Coun. Kevin Flynn, who noted he’s in the insurance industry, said the city can’t buy the business interruption insurance and it’s not up to the city to determine if CP can. He said CP will undoubtedly do everything it can to mitigate risk.

Flynn said the community voted clearly in favour of the project, and it’s time to tender it. Coun. Debbie Cannon made a similar comment about moving forward.

Coun. Louise Wallace Richmond said the city has been in a complex chess game for the past 25 years and has followed staff’s lead. She said this may not be the checkmate everyone wanted, but it’s time to move forward.

Coun. Sylvia Lindgren asked what would happen if there was an accident interrupting rail traffic now. Rob Niewenhuizen, the city’s director of engineering and public works, said it would be under CP’s insurance. He added that since staff have had more time to work on the construction agreement, there has been an extensive amount of engineering done to help minimize risk, as well as the addition of real-time monitoring of track settlement.

Read more: Projected cost of Salon Arm’s Ross Street underpass goes up by $3.5 million

Read more: Next for Salmon Arm underpass: build new tracks to avoid construction area

Mayor Alan Harrison said CP is the city’s partner and the project is now at a tipping point.

He said risk will exist as it’s an active railway and 25 trains a day will be going through a construction site.

The options would be to continue to negotiate with little hope of a different outcome, to break off negotiations and go to the Canadian Transport Authority – which could delay the project for two years, or abandon the project.

Harrison concluded there’s risk with anything, and “I think we’ve mitigated the risk the very best we can for taxpayers.”

He said signing the agreement will mean the project can proceed to tender with construction starting in the spring.

The 2020 budget lists $15.7 million for the underpass, which includes $1 million from CP plus a grant of $500,000 that CP applied for on the city’s behalf.

“Additionally, CP is completing the hotbox detector relocation works at their cost and has removed the city’s reponsibility for fiber relocation costs,” states the staff report.


marthawickett@saobserver.net
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Salmon Arm council

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The City of Salmon Arm's budget for 2021 includes funding for design work for the renovation of the recreation centre. (File photo)
Covid funding helps Salmon Arm city council reduce tax increase for 2021

Roads to receive needed work this year, pool upgrade design to commence

Columbia Shuswap Regional District staff reviewed its policies around health and safety after an employee tested positive for COVID-19. (File photo)
CSRD reviews COVID-19 policy after employee tests positive

City of Salmon Arm says only one of its staff has tested positive since March

Salmon Arm Secondary student Karly Irmen collected almost 300 lbs of food for the Salvation Army Food bank and dropped it off on Tuesday, Jan. 19. (Jim Elliot-Salmon Arm Observer)
Salmon Arm Secondary student organizes 295-lb food bank donation

A large amount of clothes was also collected to support local Salvation Army

The BC SPCA is adapting its fundraising after cancelling events due to COVID-19 restrictions. (Twila Amato - Black Press Media)
BC SPCA gets creative with fundraising as pandemic continues

The non-profit’s in-person fundraising events all had to be cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions

Vancouver Canucks’ Travis Hamonic grabs Montreal Canadiens’ Josh Anderson by the face during first period NHL action in Vancouver, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horvat scores winner as Canucks dump Habs 6-5 in shootout thriller

Vancouver and Montreal clash again Thursday night

Interior Health has declared the Cariboo Chilcotin a community cluster. (Angie Mindus photo)
Interior Health declares Cariboo Chilcotin region a COVID-19 cluster, 215 cases since Jan. 1

Most cases are related to transmission at social events and gatherings in Williams Lake

Vernon Fire Rescue Services responded to a single-vehicle rollover Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, after a vehicle came into contact with a pedestrian light pole at Kalamalka Lake Road and 14th Avenue. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
Minor injuries in rollover after vehicle hits Vernon crosswalk pole

The vehicle flipped onto its side, closing Kalamalka Lake Road

Penticton city council heard from Dhorea Ramanula, of Paid Employment for People with Lived Experiences Tuesday, Jan. 19. Ramanula’s organization has operated public washrooms in Kelowna staffed by community support workers since April, she says Penticton could benefit from a similar facility. (Michael Rodriguez - Kelowna Capital News)
Penticton interested in new public washroom concept to combat vandalism

Public washrooms with on-site support staff have been operating in Kelowna since April

Canada Post had remove a lot of letter boxes around Penticton after they were vandalized. This letter box at the United Church on Main St. remains unscathed. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Street mailbox vandals strike Penticton drop boxes

Canada Post had to remove a bunch of the vandalized units

Esa Carriere, 23, was the victim of a 2018 Canada Day homicide. (File)
Youth sentenced in Kelowna Canada Day killing

Young woman pleaded guilty to lesser assault charge, sentenced to 15-month intensive support and supervision program

A rendering of UBC’s planned downtown Kelowna campus. (Contributed)
Kelowna’s new downtown campus to help alleviate UBCO’s space crunch

The sizable development is anticipated to be completed by the fall 2024 semester

Most Read